Sustainable Food and Vegan Challenge

This weekend, the Sacramento Vegan Society Meetup hosted a talk with Dr. Oppenlander, the author of  “Comfortably Unaware: Global Depletion and Food Choice Responsibility”. Eric and I were in attendance.  Dr. Oppenlander is also the founder of the non-profit Inspire Awareness Now, the president and founder of an organic vegan food production and education business, and surprisingly enough, also a dentist. Basically, this guy keeps busy.

Dr. Oppenlander is an advocate for a plant-based diet, every day, by everyone. People choose a plant-based diet for a variety of reasons — health, animal welfare, and environment. Dr. Oppenlander provides a unique perspective by exposing serious inefficiencies and unsustainable practices in our current food production system. He is not a believer in grass-fed beef, but a believer in no-beef. He does not believe in “Meatless Mondays”, or “Voting with Your Fork”, he wants everyone to eat a plant-based diet all the time. You get the point. I thought his approach and his research were quite interesting, so I thought I would share a few tidbits with you.

Dr. Oppenlander is a real stickler for words and definitions, and so am I. I found his dissection of the word “sustainable”  interesting.  We often don’t think about the way we eat in the context of sustainability. But how much water or land is used to put a plate of food on our table? And what kind of food is least sustainable?

Dr. Oppenlander highlighted that our food choices are causing global depletion of resources, especially due to the loss of biodiversity and water. We lose about 30,000 species a year, often clearing out our habitat to raise livestock. We raise animals for food, which dries out the aquifers and wells. For example, it takes 21-30 gallons of water a day to raise a cow, while hardly any water at all for vegetables if grown in proper soil and in season.

Here are some more facts:

  • There are 7 billion people in the world – we grow about 70 billion animals for feed
  • It would take 1.5 to 2 earths to sustain our desire for animal products  = unsustainable
  • taking transportation costs out of the equation, 51% of our Greenhouse Gas emissions are the result our food choices

Dr. Oppenlander leaves you with many questions. Are our food choices really sustainable? What does the word sustainable really mean when applied to your food choices and how sustainable is that particular food to your own health? And do we know the true cost of the food that we eat every day?

Check out his book ,if you want to learn more about the topic of global depletion and food.

Now, on to the exciting news! Eric has joined the vegan team for 40 days!

He is giving up all animal products for lent, and believe me I had nothing to do with it. It’s true, he just told me his plan yesterday, and I must admit, I got very excited. I’ve been a solo vegan in my family for a while now, and I’m happy to have a partner, even if it’s for 40 days.

Many of you ask me how we cook at home since we have different diets. Eric mostly eats vegetarian when he eats at home. All of the meals I cook are vegan, but Eric sometimes adds cheese to his meals, or other “extras”. I’m fortunate enough to have a husband that loves vegan food (just not all the time), and I would guess he thinks that he’s fortune enough to have me cook good food (I’ll check with him on that just to make sure). Because we meal plan, we often have leftovers for lunch. If Eric doesn’t eat those, he eats out for lunch, and I would venture to guess that it’s not vegan or vegetarian. When we eat out, he is mostly not vegan or vegetarian. Although there are some challenges, all in all, it works out well for us because we respect each other’s choices, and go to restaurants that are vegetarian and vegan friendly.

Wish him luck!

Although Dr. Oppenlander is not a fan, I support “Meatless Mondays”. Every person is different, some people like small steps, some like giant leaps. Whether it’s food, fitness, or any other goal, sometimes one small step forward at a time is what gets you to your goal.

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    My name is Maria and I live in California. I love teaching high-energy Pilates classes, going on long runs, and making connections with all of you! Hope you find a few useful articles, fitness tips, and recipes while you're here.

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